A Pirate's Tale: Dark Lullaby - Part Eight
The first thing he saw as his eyes shot open was a large, golden oyster on his bed. He immediately recoiled from the vile thing, which brought about the first thing he felt - a gut wrenching pain in his leg.
"We thought you were going to lose that leg," a musical voice chimed from his bedside, and he turned his head so fast that his neck popped.
"Ouch," he said, rubbing the back of it with his paw. "Adi, you're alright!"
The Maraquan Gelert laughed. "Yes, we're all alright... thanks to you."
He was insanely curious about what happened, but his throbbing leg was distracting him, wrapped in bandages so thick it was difficult to move. "So I almost lost my leg, huh?" he asked.
Adimaris nodded solemnly. "You almost lost a lot more than that."
"Well," the pirate Xweetok said, beginning to grin, "I guess I nearly lived up to my name then, didn't I?"
He watched her brow furrow in confusion before she even had to ask, "What do you mean?"
He let out a laugh that he didn't quite feel. "I'd be legless, then, wouldn't I? Get it? Leg-less?"
Adimaris just rolled her bright blue eyes at his bad joke, but then she smiled. "Your sense of humor obviously remains unimproved... but it's good to have you back, Leglus."
Unable to conceal a smile himself, he ran his fingers through his matted black hair. "It's good to be back," he replied. "How long was I out?"
"Three days," Adimaris said. "We were beginning to think you'd been too close to the oyster when you opened it, and you'd never wake up."
"Hold up a minute, now. What actually happened?"
"We were hopin' ye could tell us that," Leglus heard a deep voice say, and Dezeronto suddenly appeared through the door, his hooves clacking on the wooden floor. It was then that Leglus realized where he must have been - in the captain's cabin of the Intrepid. Dezeronto's cabin. On Dezeronto's bed. Wow.
Letting all of that sink in, he slowly addressed his captain. "Well... I went down into the drop off to lure her out, as we planned," he said, struggling to remember. Three days of endless, mind numbing sleep on a beach full of no comfort but sand castles had left his brain more than a little rattled. "I yelled at her," he recalled, "And then I hid behind this weird bush thing and looked around, but I couldn't see any of you coming. And then... I don't know. Something just told me to jump. So I did. I tackled her, and we struggled." He winced and unconsciously rubbed the bandages on his leg as he recalled the sudden flash of pain. "Must've been how my leg got cut. She tried to strangle me, so I grabbed this blasted thing," he gestured toward the oyster that had fallen to the floor when he woke up, "and snapped it off her neck and opened it. But I thought I messed up, because I fell asleep."
"Well," Adimaris said, "you did hit yourself with the magic, but the two of you must have been so close that it managed to hit her, too. By the time we got there-"
"The both of yeh were layin' on the ocean floor, snoring," Dezeronto cut in with a mischievous twinkle in his real eye, "Yeh'd be surprised how many pirates you disappointed. Scarblade was nearly foaming at the mouth for missing his fight."
All three of them laughed then, Adimaris and Dezeronto in remembrance, and Leglus at the mere thought of it. "What happened after that?" he asked.
"Not much," Dezeronto said. "Adi here and Caylis worked their magic."
Leglus looked over at the Maraquan Gelert for clarification, and she didn't disappoint. With a smirk worthy of the best pirate, she pulled from behind her back a dusty old rum bottle with a tiny, glowing, blue-purple faerie inside.
"Wow!" Leglus exclaimed, his eyes burning a bit from the faerie's glow. "And there's no way she can get out of there, right?"
"Only if someone opens it," Adimaris answered with a grin, tossing the dirty bottle back and forth between her hands. "I'm not sure where Caylis learned it, but we put some pretty powerful enchantments on this, similar to what Balthazar does."
"Awesome," Leglus breathed, admiring the Gelert's work. "So I guess we'll be burying her again?"
Dezeronto nodded. "And the oyster, too. We tried to destroy it, but..."
"We couldn't get through the enchantments," Adimaris finished. "And one of them was rather nasty - whenever we hit it with something, it would feel like something hit one of us. We're still nursing bruises."
"Where?" Leglus asked. "We won't be burying them together, of course?"
Dezeronto shook his head. "Of course not. Far apart. Opposite sides of Neopia, if we can manage."
Leglus nodded. That was definitely wise.
"But nothing," Adimaris admonished, "until that leg is healed."
Dezeronto nodded, and then exchanged an odd glance with Adimaris. They both grinned. What was that about?
"And when we bury the wretched things," Dezeronto said, "it'll be done by my new first mate."
"Hmm," Leglus said, trying to think who Dezeronto would have picked as his first mate. There was always Sunny, of course, but then... "Wait! Wait! Do you mean... me?"
Adimaris laughed so loudly it echoed off the cabin walls, and Dezeronto even chuckled a little. Wow. First mate. Wow.
"Th-thank you, Captain," the pirate Xweetok managed to stutter, barely able to take it all in. He'd just saved Neopia. He was the first mate of the Intrepid. Wow. "It's an honor."
Dezeronto winked - a bizarre sight, since he only actually had one eye. "Yeh've proved your worth, kid. Don't let me down. Now, I'll have to be seein' about the crew."
"Y-yes. Aye, Captain."
"I guess I'm a hero now," he teased Adimaris with a cheeky grin.
"No," she disagreed, shaking her head with a smile. "You're a pirate."
Shoveling was becoming Leglus' new best friend. After his leg had healed, it felt like that was all he'd been doing. But that was better than swabbing the decks, he decided, and nothing beat being first mate of the greatest pirate ship to sail the Neopian Seas.
The pirate Xweetok wiped the sweat from his brow and pushed his thick, black hair out of his face. Thankfully, his leg hadn't been troubling him much. He had another scar, and he limped sometimes, but that was just about it. He'd managed to dig a hole even deeper than the one he'd dug when he uncovered the chest that had contained the bottled evil faerie, weeks before.
He threw his shovel out of the hole with a grunt and then extended a hand out of the deep hole, grabbing on to a strong hoof.
"Thanks, Dez," Leglus said, dusting himself off.
"Aye," Dezeronto replied, "I'll let yeh finish up from here. Best be headin' back to the ship."
As Dezeronto's footsteps began to fade and his form became a gray dot near the Intrepid, the pirate Xweetok sat down and pulled a humming purple paint brush out of his pocket. He'd been thinking a lot over the past few weeks. About why he'd become a pirate. About the promise he'd asked Adimaris to keep. In many ways, he still wished she'd change her mind.
He placed the paint brush on the sand gently, and without realizing what he was doing, he started to build a sand castle. He remembered his childish fantasy that building sand castles was what caused Adimaris to come and visit him, and he chuckled, but immediately stopped building it, staring down at the paint brush.
She loved the sea. She'd never leave it. And from then on, he decided, he'd never ask her to. If it was what she wanted, it was what she'd have.
It was a strange feeling, he thought, feeling both disappointed but completely content. So he'd never see her every minute of everyday, so what? He could always build a sand castle, and... she was happy.
Leglus reached over and carefully opened the chest that contained the oyster. There was plenty of room left in it, so he picked up the paint brush and dropped it inside, then let the lid clang shut and clicked the lock. With a sigh, he stood, picked up the chest, and threw it in the hole. He still had a lot of work left to do, but the feeling of relief was rejuvenating.
As he slowly scooped up sand tossed it into the hole, burying all of the unpleasant memories of the last few weeks, he glanced at his half-finished sand castle and smiled.
"Adi!" the little pirate Xweetok yelled, leaping up from the sand where he'd been moping beside a magnificent sand castle. "I didn't think you were coming!"
"I wasn't going to," the little Maraquan Gelert said, smiling as she splashed in the water. "But I just felt like I should."
Little Leglus smiled, knowing it was the sand castle that somehow summoned her, but keeping it a secret. "We're going to be best friends forever, right, Adi?"
Little Adimaris stopped in her splashing for a moment to smile at him. "Of course," she agreed. "Forever."